05/30/2007 12:00AM

Street Sense's barn sends Kettle Hill


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - While virtually all the attention in and around Barn 26 at Churchill Downs is focused on Street Sense, there are another 30 or so horses stabled there quietly going about their business for trainers Carl Nafzger and Ian Wilkes.

One of those horses is an up-and-coming 3-year-old named Kettle Hill, a gray gelding who should figure prominently when the ninth-race feature is run on the twilight card Friday at Churchill Downs.

"He sure is improving, isn't he?" asked Wilkes, in whose name Kettle Hill will race. "He's a big horse, and he's finally getting it all together. He's shown us his best surface is going to be Polytrack or the turf."

Kettle Hill, owned by a partnership that includes his breeders, Phil Milner and Randy Bloch, raced six times before winning a race, which he did impressively on the Churchill turf on May 12. Before that, the gelding had been knocking on the door by finishing second in back-to-back races over Polytrack at Keeneland, including a razor-thin defeat on April 21.

Wilkes has named Calvin Borel to ride Kettle Hill in the feature, an allowance race that carries a $50,000 purse and is scheduled for 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

Several of Kettle Hill's opponents appear worthy, including Biggerbadderbetter, Touchdown Peyton, Faith's Magic, and Quasicobra.

Biggerbadderbetter and Touchdown Peyton both are trained by Ken McPeek, who is enjoying an outstanding Churchill meet. Biggerbadderbetter, with Robby Albarado to ride, most recently battled to win a $62,500 claiming route on the Churchill turf for his second career victory, while Touchdown Peyton, with Corey Lanerie named, is slowly returning to form after easily winning a maiden race on the turf here last fall.

Faith's Magic, trained by Todd Pletcher, has run respectably in two cracks at this first-level allowance condition since being claimed by local owner Gus Goldsmith at the Gulfstream Park winter meet. Faith's Magic was second by a neck over the Gulfstream turf, then third by four lengths over the Churchill turf.

Quasicobra, with Julien Leparoux riding for trainer Patrick Biancone, has had two races this year, both on the Keeneland Polytrack. After winning an April 13 maiden race, Quasicobra wheeled back 12 days later and finished second at the same level as the race Friday.

Rounding out the field are Chestermite, Ashen Lord, and Ifonlyjohnny.

One other allowance (race 10) is also on the 11-race card, which has a a first post of 2:45 p.m. Eastern.